A Shandy Sort of Mood

I used to think beer should be consumed unadulterated, plain and cold. Then I moved to London and had my first shandy. It was only lager and lemonade (the fizzy, off-dry English sort) mixed half-and-half, but I loved it.

Shandies weren’t an everyday sort of drink, but rather the perfect low-alcohol choice for lazing in a sunny pub garden after a day of walking the English countryside. It wasn’t the kind of mood easily recreated stateside. Until now.

The Westside Local's Summer Shandy

We stopped at The Westside Local for dinner recently, and I was intrigued by the “summer shandy” on its cocktail list. It strayed from the familiar pub recipe by using Strongbow cider, Hoffbrau Heffeweissen, Thatcher’s apple-ginger liqueur and fresh lemon juice, but the refreshing deliciousness made me forget about being a purist.

Not that there is such a thing as a “purist” shandy, apparently. The drink dates back to the nineteenth century and was first called a shandygaff—then-London vernacular for a pint of beer, or “shant of gatter,” according to the Food Lover’s Companion.

Order a shandygaff today, and you’ll likely get equal parts lager (think Stella Artois or Miller, but don’t go lite) and ginger beer or ginger ale. Tasty, but less interesting than the original, says The Craft of the Cocktail.Its recipe: Add 1/2 pint ale, 1/2 pint ginger beer, 1 ounce orange curaçao and 1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice to a large mug and garnish with a lemon peel.To make a pub-style shandy, go with half lager and half lemon soda (use something dry, like GuS Dry Meyer Lemon, rather than 7-Up). Have extra time on your hands? Then make your own lemonade a la Gourmet, follow Imbibe’s recipe for a saffron-limoncello shandy or gussy things up with the Formal Fringe’s cayenne-salt rim.

To cop the phrase du jour, shandies are also food-friendly. Alcademics.com says they go well with barbecue and spicy food, while What to Drink with What You Eat matches them with halibut (especially if cooked with coconut and mint), Indian food, kebabs, lamb chops, salmon tikka and tandoori-cooked dishes.

Me? I’d rather just park it in a patch of late summer sun and sip away.

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~ by fooddrinklife on September 14, 2011.

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